Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield

What makes you happy?

October 11, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Discipleship

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’” (Matthew 16:24-26)

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? If I could only spend my time doing the things that I really enjoy, then I would be truly happy. If I could just eat doughnuts for breakfast and have a big bowl of ice cream (or two bowls) every night, I would be happy. If I could just spend my days watching the shows I like and playing the games I like and avoiding those things that I don’t like, then my life would be great.

But Jesus dares to disagree. He has the nerve to say in Matthew 16 that if I make my life all about my own pleasure, I will lose my life and forfeit my soul. But if I deny myself and follow Him, then I will truly find life.

Surprisingly, even a secular study backs up the notion of serving others being more rewarding then living for oneself. Consider this quote, from Tim Keller’s book The King’s Cross:

“On January 7th, 2007, the New York Times Magazine ran an interesting article called ‘Happiness 101.’ It described positive psychology, a branch of psychology that seeks to take a scientific, empirical approach to what makes people happy. Researchers in this field have found that if you focus on doing things and getting things that give you pleasure, it does not lead to happiness but produces what one researcher has dubbed ‘the hedonic treadmill.’ You become addicted to pleasure, and your need for the pleasure fix keeps growing: You have to do more and more. You’re never really satisfied, never really happy. According to the article, scientific studies have shown that the best way to increase your happiness is actually to do acts of selfless kindness, to pour yourself out for needy people. The main researcher’s goal was to show that ‘there are ways of living that (research shows) lead to better outcomes.’ Some of these better outcomes were ‘close relationships and love,’ ‘well-being,’ and ‘meaning and purpose in life.’

The researcher pointed out that when you are leading an unselfish life of service to other people, it gives you a sense of meaning, of being useful and valuable, of having a life of significance. So, naturally, he argued that you should live this way in order to achieve these ‘better outcomes.’

Now, of course, this study leaves God out of the equation, and paradoxically advocates living unselfishly for selfish reasons. But those objections aside, the results of the study are still intriguing in how they affirm Jesus’ words: if you live for yourself, you will in the end lose your life, just as surely as eating doughnuts and ice cream as your main meals will probably kill you before you reach 50.

God has created you for a purpose, and part of that purpose involves using the gifts He has given you to serve others. Do you want to find your life? Stop living for yourself, and start following Jesus and serving others.

Comments for this post have been disabled